On April 24th, you will see the growth of a movie mustard seed as the independent film, Little Boy, sprouts and spreads throughout theaters across the United States. Eduardo Verástegui (Bella), Producer and Actor playing the cameo role of Fr. Crispin, explains that this is a “family experience more than a movie” and he hopes that experience will leave people “inspired to love more and judge less; inspired to forgive more and complain less; and to become the best versions of themselves.”
This experience grows out of a little 8 year old boy Pepper's (Jakob Salvati) journey in growing his faith enough to move a mountain, as described in Matthew 17:20. Verástegui notes that “the mountain is a symbol for anything…the dream that doesn’t come true yet, the challenge that you are facing, or troubles with your faith…whatever it is, when you are about to lose hope and are about to give up.”
Verástegui further explains the importance of faith as a central theme: "Faith is the most important thing in my life and in having our faith at the center of our lives, everything is easier and of course, requires sacrifice. We have to work every day in trying to be a better person and better version of ourselves, and that is the journey until we die....but how do we do that? First of all, we have to have faith and hope and love and all of the other virtues in order to become the version that God wants us to be. It is a daily battle and that is what this little boy is doing in trying to become a better version of himself, by struggling to do the Corporal Works of Mercy [Feeding the hungry, Clothing the naked, Sheltering the homeless, Visiting the sick, Visiting those in prison, and Burying the dead... and local priest, Father Oliver, adds one additional item for the little boy to complete—befriending a perceived enemy, as the little boy must rid his little heart of all hate in order for all his good works to be meaningful]. By helping others, by trying to save the life of his father, by trying to end the war, by loving his enemies, the little boy completes a beautiful journey through which he ends up also transforming his whole community."
Living by faith and personal convictions is a challenge for the little boy as he is mocked and ridiculed for his faith by others who take no stock in its relevance or possibility of affecting change through God's higher power.This may be true for many of us in our daily lives, especially for those who work in areas where expression of faith is strongly discouraged or watered down to a mushy concoction of warm fuzzies with no substance. It must be especially challenging in a place like Hollywood. However, Verástegui responds that "It could be any country, anywhere. Whatever you are going to be doing, you are going to face challenges. And anything that is worth it requires sacrifice and discipline. It's like you want to win the gold medal in the Olympics and it's not like you are going to wake up one day and say 'I'm going to the Olympics today to compete'. No, it takes many hours and many years of sacrifice, discipline and many other things. So it is the same thing ....It is a life of prayer and a life of service and loving others. I think that having a prayer life is is one of the most important things. It helps to have a better vision and a better character towards what you are doing, and you will be more equipped to face all those challenges and all those obstacles with love and hope and all the virtues we need."
Just as the little boy began putting his faith into action, Verástegui and associates at Metanoia film company encourage others to do the same. They have offered a free seat to the movie for all World War II veterans to honor their service. Verastagui challenges all to be heroes as explained on their site letsbeheroes.org. Verástegui said, "We are all called to be heroes and what that means is making positive contributions to make the world a better place. We are called to use our talents, especially for those in most need. It is what I am trying to do in every single area of my life. I am trying to live simply. I am trying to do the best and make the world a better place."
Many of those challenges are certainly found along the path of an independent film maker and those are some of the reasons it took 5 years to complete the movie. Accordng to Verástegui, "When you are an independent film maker, you face so many challenges. First of all, the hardest thing is to have the right story, the script of the movie. And there were so many scripts that we got and so many stories....but finally Alejandro Monteverde and Pepe Portillo wrote this wonderful story, presented a budget, and I was convinced that this was the next project. From there it was focus on raising the funds and then completing preproduction, production and post production, and then distribution. And all that, from the beginning when we found the right story until it opens April 24th, it has been almost 6 years. With the historical aspects, this was an expensive independent film and we are doing everything outside of the regular system of creating movies. It is not like we are inside of a major studio with benefits of big budgets and a whole machine with factories for creating films. Yet, we have advantages in our strong story and cast and being able to have the control to create a film without compromise on the values we want to portray. True, that we do not have many things that would make our lives easier in creating a movie, but in the end it is worth it so that we can tell such a meaningful story."
This is a story that is enchanting and entertaining as an all-star cast including the older brother (David Henrie), the father James Busbee (Michael Rapaport), the mother (Emily Watson), the physician (Kevin James), a Busbee Garage employee (Abraham Benrubi), a famous magician (Ben Chaplin); a perceived enemy (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a nun (Ali Landry), and two local priests, Fr. Crispin (Eduardo Verástegui) and the pastor, Fr. Oliver (Tom Wilkinson), and all of them weave in and out of the little boy's life as he pursues his quest to complete all the tasks on the list and bring him father back home from the war.
We move along on this discovery as well, and Verástegui hopes that we too will be changed by the fruits of their labor: "I hope that people in the audience will leave with more than popcorn and soda, but change in their hearts to be better persons. For all other creative people and those that enjoy those creative works, I challenge you to make a difference by making the world a better place with every opportunity to use your talents, and accept no lesser compromise."
Little Boy was produced by Eduardo Verástegui, Leo Severino, Alejandro Monteverde, Emilio Azcarraga, Bernardo Gomez, Micky OHare & Sean Wolfington, Executive-producers were Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Watch the movie trailer here.
Take a friend or your family to see Little Boy, opening weekend April 24 and let us know your opinion.